In response to ‏@billthesceptic’s article on SCMP


Bill Hayton@billthesceptic Mar 17

My personal response to above message from @billthesceptic to me on Twitter:

Thank you for your suggestion for me to read your insight opinion published on South China Morning Post website. I appreciate your effort in checking and writing on the above topic.  While there is some guess in your published opinion, in my personal knowledge I would like to point out a few things:

1. Your article’s title is “How a non-existent island became China’s southernmost territory”  – this statement itself is half correct (or half incorrect): while China regards James Shoal as its southernmost territory, it doesn’t see it as and island, thus it is not regarded as an “non-existent island” because everyone is clear it is not an island. It is “Zengmu Ansha”, the name used since 1947 and correctly corresponds to the feature’s English name James Shoal.

2. While discussing, referring, and studying about the Spratly Islands, for long time people (including laymen and academics and political persons) have tended to regard this as a group in their reference to it. You effort to single out the Zengmu Ansha and discuss about its property and rights based on today’s understanding is nothing wrong, but is not so helpful regarding the overall dispute solving. Please do not forget that not far north of Zengmu Ansha, there are a few other features like the South and North Luconia Shoals which are also included in the Chinese government maps in 1935, 1946 and 1947.

3. China has regarded the Spratly Islands features as territory belonging to itself and published maps in 1935, and revised in 1947 to announce sovereignty over these island features. I am not sure at that time, before United Nations Conventions on the Law of Seas existed, these type of territory like “Shoal” was regarded as a territory and should be regarded as “territory” or not then. But judging a shoal as non-territory today is  somewhat unfair to something then. Some more, the dispute is not settled today so no conclusion is accepted universal yet.

4. Regarding your guess and opinion that “The most likely answer seems to be that it was probably the result of a translation error.”  There is something I can share with you: long before the English name “James Shoal” or “Tseng-mu shoal” was made, Chinese fishermen from Hainan have been calling this place as Shapai [“沙排”] which is a correct description of this type of feature – a coral reef which does not surface out of the water level even during low tide.  While I have not researched on the detailed process how the 1935 Land and Water Investigation Map Committee gave names to these islands, reefs, shoals and I will not say a conclusion based on guessing. However in 1947 the revised name correctly corresponds “Ansha” to shoal and the name has been used since then till this date. In fact the names revising was an ongoing process as more knowledge was gained, even in 1983 some more changes were made, Chinese finshermen’s “更路簿” (Clocked Route Book) and names given by the Chinese fishermen contributed to many of the names in Spratly Islands, even the British, Japanese used names called by the Chinese fishermen working in the area or on the islands.  Many of the English names were translation from Hainanese dialect itself.

5. Your claim that “By now, the translation error had become a fact, setting the region on course for conflict 80 years later.” is giving too much weight to the naming of Zengmu Ansha itself, whether it was a translation error in 1935 or not, and which was corrected in 1946 and 1947.

If China (ROC and then PRC) were powerful enough to safeguard its territory claim by stationing troops earlier than the later claimants like Philippines and Malaysia came in to claim because these islands are within “their 200nm EEZ”, or “proximity”, or like Thomas Cloma’s “discovery” claim in 1950s these were “terra nullius“, I believe it will be a much different picture today. And the same UNCLOS principles to be applied would be interpreted in another way , the correct way – these islands proper should be given their EEZ and thus the coastal countries like Philippines’ using EEZ to claim China’s islands will be too obviously a nonsense – yet so much favored in the country itself and supported by some biased media.

Events in Ren‘ai Jiao – Second Thomas Shoal

A post in response to @billthesceptic ‘s twitter message:


If it was just a plain link to the original news report itself, I would not reply to it.

The way the message was expressed provoked me that I had to reply to it.

The twitter message used the word “prioritises … grab … over hunt for missing aircraft”. One can simply tell the message is defaulting that China’s action is at wrong.

Let’s look into the facts first as conveyed in the Reuters news report itself.

According to the news press on 10th March 2014, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on 9th March during routine patrol nearby Ren’ai Jiao, the Chinese Coast Guard ship found two ships carrying construction materials and bearing Filipino flags trying to approach Ren’ai Jiao. The Chinese Coast Guard ship drove away these two ships via warning to them by speaker.

As we are aware on 8th March the MH370 airline went missing and many are deeply concerned about the whereabout of the missing MH370. As of 9th March China has sent a few ships and planned to send more ships to the area where MH370 was last known missing to search for it.

But the messages draws to the point that China prioritises “grab in South China Sea” over “hunt for missing aircraft” is simply too sided. China does have its Coast Guard ships routinely patrolling in the Ren’ai Jiao area and how should what it did on 9th March as regarded as “prioritising over the hunt for the missing aircraft”? It has every right to carry out its duty there, to protect its land.

Instead, should the Philippines be regarded as scheming and opportune in making their attempt to send construction materials to its “grounded” vessel in Ren’ai Jiao on this date?

I have done some research and found the following events regarding Ren’ai Jiao:

On 9th May 1999, the Philippines sent its Vessel 57 to Ren’ai Jiao and it was “grounded” there since because its bottom was leaking. If one can recall, on 8th May 1999 the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia was bombed by US and it was a darkest moment in Chinese diplomacy and whole China was like in Chaos and probably no one was paying attention to the Philippines action then. How smart they were!

One can also recall that in 1972 when Taiwan was replaced by Mainland China in the UN, the Philippines quickly sent its troops to snatch Thitu Island and a few other features in the Spratlys from Taiwan’s control.

Anyway, coming back to Ren’ai Jiao, since the Philippines ship was “grounded” there has been constant diplomatic argument between China and the Philippines and according Chinese Foreign Minsitry’s news press, the Philippines has promised to remove the grounded ship from Ren’ai Jiao but didn’t carry out its promise using technical excuses.

Actually back in May 2013 the Philippines  had promised they would not try to send construction materials again, but would only send food supply there.

Chinese Foreign Minsitry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on 1st July 2013 told at the press that the Philippines has clearly explained to China that due to “lack of spare parts” they could not tow away the ship and “the Philippines also didn’t want to be the first one to revoke the Declaration of Conduct in South China Sea”.

If this time the Philippines is just sending food supply to the “grounded” ship, it might not catch much attention, but they were trying to send concrete and rebar. As reported later the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs issued a brief and this is the first time that the Philippine government openly admitted that the BRP Sierra Madre was intentionally positioned at the shoal.  So all the previous excuses for “grounding” and “unable to tow away the ship” become so obvious now.


While I understand the Spratlys in the South China Sea are disputed, and I do expect to see some objective reports from trustworthy media resources like BBC (not CNN) reporters, too often we see the prejudiced or sided media reports, and China is defaulted as the wrong side no matter what it does.

Here I actually want to say I couldn’t really organize my thoughts well in the above post because I am not a native English speaking person and my lack of skills in debating in such way. Sometimes I feel so bad about myself that I cannot express my thoughts well in English but when I am thinking in my native language, it is so simple and straightforward all these kind of prejudices are just so unreasonable.

[updated: 18 Mar 2013 07:50 GMT+8: correction Code of Conduct in South China Sea to Declaration of Conduct in South China Sea







二 ○○七年,曾经有媒体报道称,中国国务院已批准海南省政府的提议,将西沙办升级,设立正式的县级市「三沙市」,取代海南省西沙群岛、南沙群岛、中沙群岛办事处来管理这三个群岛。报道还称,将由距离西沙群岛最近的文昌市来承担三沙市的补给工作,三沙市的后勤补给基地、码头供给基地会建在文昌市的清澜港。但这一消息一直未得到官方证实,后来也再无下文。





1. 南海海域环境问题
2. 假设中国与东南亚争端方发生武装冲突,东南亚国家华人何去何从,会受何影响?
3. “帕拉塞尔”地名演变过程
4. 南海海域海盗问题研究
5. 南沙群岛岛礁商业开发方案研究(以旅游度假酒店为初步方案)
6. 南海争端各方利益分析
7. 南沙群岛争端各国“民族主义”问题研究




How big does it need to be an island resort?

My answer: 100 meter x 250 meter, that is all it need to be!

Right in front us there are hundreds of beautiful islands in our South China Sea, each is like a pearl, with the most beautiful sea, sky and sand, coral reefs, rich biodiversity, amazing diving sites.
So why do we need to envy others? We just need to guard and build our islands into resorts and welcome people from the whole world enjoy the nature.



在google earth或者google map的卫星图上,随便点击一处,放大再放大,你会发现一座座小岛,环礁,泻湖,很多都被建成了度假酒店。我曾经在一座这样的岛上,从这一头走到另一头,350步,从一边走到另外一边,150步。岛上总共住着200多个客人和员工。





开发最成功的:马来西亚 – 用在南沙海域盗采的天然气建成了世界上最大的天然液化气厂;建成了在南沙群岛的唯一一座度假酒店并且客似云来;

主权灌输教育最成功的:越南 – 不管是所谓的“亲华”还是“反华”派,不管是过去的南越还是现在的越共政府,他们在西沙、南沙群岛上的灌输教育都是很成功的,有些人甚至都不分黑白,像疯狗一样了。

政客借题发挥最成功的:菲律宾 – 菲律宾国内的政客和媒体可是时时不忘扯到这个问题上来,都好几十年的老传统了。




关于在南海岛礁上安装反渗透海水淡化装置的建议,再次在这里提出。如果有人能够将此建议转达到海军或者相关部门,我将不胜感激。据我所知,菲律宾海军已经在使用相关装置供应淡水,而越南近期也开始关注海水变淡水技术。各岛礁上的水源问题很快将不是什么问题 —— 这一点各方都一样,你不先用别人就会先用,关键是不要因落后而产生坏的影响。


三沙市– (西沙南沙中沙) 设立


According to articles published on government website of Wenchang City, Hainan Provice, People’s Republic of China (accessed on 16th November 2007). Sansha Shi (Sansha County-level City, literally three sands county) has been set up by Chinese State of Council. This county will administrate all the three island groups of Xisha Islands (Paracels), Nansha Islands (Spratlys) and Zhongsha (Macclesfield) Islands, which are located in the Southern Sea (South China Sea).

Dongsha Islands (Pratas) is not included as it is under the administration of Taiwan Province.

I have set up a Chinese website and an English website Do visit these two sites regularly to get the latest information on the China’s South China Sea Islands.

[2007年12月5日后记] 这篇网志本来是2007年11月16日写的,当时根据查对中国海南文昌市政府的网站得知此消息。之后几天各大正规新闻网站上在11月20日左右都出现了相关的报道,大概10个小时之后这些报道的网页却全都无法进入。这个新闻的版本也是有好几种:国内版本有几种,包括地理正确和地理不正确的,地理不正确的主要是把“三沙市”包括的范围搞错成“西沙南沙东沙”,或者把“西南中沙群岛办事处”说成是“中沙群岛办事处”。大网站上的新闻都被删除或隐蔽了,但是网友转载却没有被删除掉,这里也懒得去评说了。但是还有一种能够访问到的版本就是如波逊、多伪、劈死或之类的有法轮功或其他海外势力的网站,当然他们所站的角度不同,一般是在标题中即指责中共引爆争议之类的论调。





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